Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 29, 2014 Ready for Christmas!

John Mark, Joshua and Juzzmin Trajano
FHE at the Trajano home with Elder and Sister White

Saw Choy Gregorio and his dad at our district meeting.  They are members from my first area Gua Gua

Hello Family!!!!

Well, as you can tell by my subject, the Filipinos are all ready for Christmas!  The Christmas music is in full swing, the Christmas trees are out and decorations are up.  And we've still got 3 months.  But hey, they're excited!

This week we had an awesome FHE at the Trajano home with the senior missionary couples.  They really enjoyed the family home evening and want to do it again.  There really is a neat spirit about FHE.  And then Mark Trajano (the dad) was interviewed on Sunday and is going to be baptized this Saturday!!!  We are super excited because his testimony is solid.  His wife isn't really feeling like she wants to be baptized so we're thinking that Mark will get baptized and we'll still keep teaching Marilyn and the kids and hopefully later in the month, they will get baptized and Mark can be the one to baptize them.  He was pretty excited about that option.  Hopefully seeing Mark's baptism will help Marilyn want it too.  Mark really wants his family to become members and be active so he is doing his best as a father and husband to encourage them.

And James Cayanan was baptized on Saturday!!!  He's the son of Delio who was baptized about 4 weeks ago.  James is awesome because he continues to come to church every week with his dad even though he is the only young man.  He has no friends or anyone his age and even the Young Men's president doesn't come that often so he never has a teacher for him.  He just comes to class with the adults.  But he still comes to church and wanted to be baptized.  So now we have to find some families that have boys his age so that he has some friends.

Baptism of James Cayanan!!! The son of Delio
We are super excited about this month!  We have a lot of progressing investigators and lots of upcoming baptisms for October and November.  At first, I was a little sad that I wasn't transferring because the transfers are good to help you stay excited about the work.  When you have been in an area for a long time, sometimes you lose that excitement.  But I am really grateful to Heavenly Father that He's letting me stay in this area and see the fruits of what I have been doing in Pilar.  Usually I get transferred before I see the baptisms but this time I will be able to see them all the way through.  Maybe this is Heavenly Father's blessing to me; my whole mission, I only got to actually see a few of the baptisms but now I will get to see a lot more before I leave.  And I will get to see the progress of the recent converts and how they are growing and learning in the gospel.  That is the best part about being a missionary: seeing the change in a person before and after.  And knowing that it doesn't stop there with baptism, it will continue as long as they stay active and live the gospel.  I feel so blessed that Heavenly Father called me to this work and entrusted me with such important responsibility as helping His children learn how to return back to Him!  What an amazing plan!

Well, I love you all and hope you are all doing great!

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Friday, September 26, 2014

September 22, 2014 Another week in Pilar

Hello family!

Another week in Pilar.  It's so funny because we feel like we are being really successful, we have really good lessons, and then we get to church and our attendance is really down.  it's because of the rain.  It's funny, you would think because they have lived here their whole lives, they would be used to the rain.  But they still use it as an excuse to not come to church.  It was kind of interesting yesterday at church because all the people that attended were either investigators, recent converts, or less actives.  We had 5 active members come to church.  So at least our investigator class was really well attended :)

Delio's family! Left to right: James, Delio, Grace, Marlene, Me!

Good news of the week: Delio's son James is going to get baptized on Saturday!!  Kind of sad news: Jocelyn couldn't come to church because her boss called her unexpectedly to work.  So she can't be baptized on Saturday.  But don't worry, she'll be baptized in October.  And the Trajano family is doing good.  Marilyn, the wife isn't sure still about all of this but Mark has a really solid testimony.  He said the prayer in gospel principles class and I just remember in his prayer he said something about "our church".  He is really excited to be baptized and is loving the Book of Mormon.  I think that he would be a really good young men's leader someday and I can see him also in the branch presidency.  He has a really good understanding of gospel principles.  We're going to do a FHE with their family later tonight.  hopefully we can get Marilyn interested!

Other than that, pretty normal week.  Trying to find lots of new investigators and people who will listen to us.  Also trying to help the less actives come back to church.  One of the less actives, Helen Alfuente, is a really neat story.  I remember when we were first going to her, she was always really tired and had a hard time paying attention to us and would often say "next time, sisters."  Told her about the temple and challenged her to prepare and be worthy to go in December to the temple for the first time.  It is really amazing when we teach people about the temple.  She got really excited and is now active, every week coming to church and she is reading the Book of Mormon (before she would never do her reading assignments) and doing everything she can to be worthy.  She said that years before, she heard about the temple trip but never had an interest in going.  But now, she understands and really wants to go.  And she really looks forward to our visits and seems so happy now.  I love seeing the effect that the gospel has on people's lives!  I don't think anything in her life changed except becoming active but she is so much happier.  I know that is the effect that the gospel can have on all of us.  Just like it says in the scriptures to come unto Christ and take his yoke upon us.  That sounds like it would be harder, but it actually eases our burdens.  Just like the people in Alma experienced their burdens lightened even though they were in captivity and had heavy burdens placed upon them.

Well, that's the update for the week!  We have transfer day this week and I feel like I'm going to be transferred.  It's always exciting to get a new area but it is kind of sad to leave a really progressing area like Pilar.  We'll see what the Lord has in store.

mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September 15, 2014 Elder Bowen visits

We had FHE and these are some of the cutest little kids.  from left to right: Gwen, Ariel, Me, LA

FHE at Tatay Lero's house

FHE! Eating toyo.  (Dried fish) It's pretty good, it just smells really bad

Hola ang pamily ko! (I don't remember how to speak Spanish anymore....)

Well, we had a really great week this last week.  First of all, we had a special mission conference with Elder Bowen who is in the presidency of the Seventy.  It was such a great conference and I felt the Spirit so strong!  It was neat also because all the zone leaders and STL's got to have a special training with him and it really helped me to want to be a better leader here.  I still have a long way to go and it was really humbling to hear what he had to say about being examples and leading with power.  I have a long way to go.  I wish you all could have heard his workshop about the House of Isreal, the Abrahamic covenant and the Oath and covenant of the Priesthood.  It was so amazing and I learned soooo much!  It really opened my eyes to who we really are in the eyes of God and all of the amazing promises that He has made to us.  It is just up to us to qualify for them.  And it really deepened my testimony about the power of the priesthood and the wonderful blessings that come from it.  And that EVERYTHING about God's plan depends on the priesthood.  At the beginning of the conference, Elder Bowen said, "I am here because I think that I know you better than you know yourselves.  And I want to help you know who you are."  He really gave an eternal perspective on who we are and what we are doing here on this earth.
Saw some old comps at the zone conference

Yesterday, is was raining really hard and our sacrament attendance dropped to 35.  A lot of members got sick and there were a lot who didn't come because of the rain.  Sayang. And most of our investigators didn't come which was sad but they do have their agency.  We can't take that away!

But, we do have a really neat story for the week. About a month and a half ago, we met a woman named Annalyn and taught her a first lesson.  She said we could come back but she was always gone from her house until one time she was there again.  So we taught her.  She said that she had a friend that she wanted to introduce us to.  So the next time we came back, her friend Lorena was there.  We taught them.  Annalyn is really nice, but just doesn't seem interested.  But Lorena did seem interested.  Unfortunately, Lorena lives in Orion which is the next city away and that isn't our area.  But she's always at Annalyn's house because her kids go to school here in Pilar.  So they told us to come back but then they were never at the house.  So we dropped them and decided it just wasn't yet their time.  But I kept thinking about Lorena and thought "Too bad we didn't get where she lives in Orion, we could have referred her to the sisters there.  She really seemed interested!"  That's what I thought every time that we walked past Annalyn's house (which is often).  Then yesterday, we were out working and had planned to contact a lot of people that we met the other day and find some referrals of the members.  We'd tried to find one referral Rowena several times but never found her.  So yesterday, there was a huge storm.  It was pouring rain and the wind was really strong.  We contacted the first few people and taught them.  At the time, we were really cold, really wet and tired of walking out in the rain.  We were thinking of just going and teaching some recent converts and less actives instead of still trying to find the referrals.  Just then, we were walking past this one street that Rowena (the referral) supposedly lives on.  I asked Sis Domingo if we should go try and find her.  Sister Domingo said "Again??" I shrugged and we decided to give it a try really quick.  So we went to the apartment building that we figured she might live at and I saw a door close right as we walked up.  I thought to myself, 'Oh, I think that's her house. She probably recognized us and shut the door really quickly.'  So I told Sis Domingo, "I think that's her house!" So we went up to it and knocked.  No one answered for a long time, but then eventually the door opened and there stood Lorena! She was surprised, I was surprised and didn't know what to say! I said, "Sister, what are you doing here?" She said "We live here! We just moved here on Sept 1."  She let us in and we met her whole family.  She said, "Did Annalyn tell you that we just moved here?" We said no, we were actually looking for someone but this is the house that God took us to.  Everyone was so surprised, including myself.  Lorena looked so happy and said to her husband, "This is the sister that I told you about! It's been a month now.  The last time you came to Annalyn's house was August 9." I just could not believe that we came and knocked on Lorena's door when they had moved there just one week ago.  We taught her family and they seem so interested, even the husband!  I am so grateful that I followed the prompting to go down that street and look one more time for that referral even though there was a hurricane and we were cold and wet.  It wasn't the referral that Heavenly Father wanted us to find, it was Lorena! It just goes to show that Heavenly Father knows where all of His children are.  And if we are willing to listen, He will take us to those who are ready.  Definitely the Spirit guiding us yesterday!

Well, that's the update for the last week.  I love being a missionary!  Even though it is really hard sometimes, it is so worth it.  There is a happiness here every day that you don't feel otherwise.  And it's so amazing to be able to feel the Spirit everyday.  I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who cares about each one of us and wants us all to return to His presence.  He has a plan for us and He has called a Savior to help us reach that goal.  And he still calls living prophets to guide us and show us the way. We are that important to Him.

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Sept 8, 2014 Kamusta ang aking pamilya!

This is what rice looks like while it is growing.  When it turns golden brown, it's ready to harvest!  Lots of rice growing right now in our area :)

Kamusta ang aking pamilya!

Well, this week was a pretty great week!  (I think this is about how I start every email...) The best part of the week was yesterday when we had 9 investigators come to church!  That is the most that I've had come to church at one time in my whole mission!!!!  So that was exciting.  There were two families there and that made it even better.  It's always awesome to see families come to church.  The Trajano family we are really excited about.  We finally got the kids interested in what we were teaching when we taught the plan of salvation and I had all the pictures and cut outs and everything.  So we're really hoping that they can all be baptized together because that would be an awesome baptism.  Mark Trajano (the dad) is really excited to be baptized and he really gets what we are teaching him.  I have a feeling that he'll be a leader in the church.  He's really good at understanding the doctrine and the scriptures.  And the good thing is that they have friends in the church so that always makes it easier.  I'll try and get a picture of their family next week because they are my favorite!  But I have a feeling that I'll be transferred this transfer and I won't get to see their baptism....

And Jocelyn Roque is the other investigator that we are super excited about.  She is the wife of a less active that really wants to be active now.  It's so funny because before, she did NOT want to talk to the missionaries ever, and she was even pretty rude to the previous sisters here.  But now she loves when we come teach her and she is sooooooooo excited to be baptized!  And, one night when we left, she said to us "You sisters are welcome here any day, any time!"  what a big change from what she used to say! But she's really excited for the baptism and during one lesson, she asked about 5 times about her baptism and if it was still happening.

We've also started a Book of Mormon reading program in one of our areas.  It's kind of like a book club where they meet once a week and discuss the assigned reading for the week.  We did it in an area that has a lot of recent converts and also Jocelyn and Junior Roque live there.  The area presidency is really trying to push that recent converts FINISH the Book of Mormon, not just get to 2nd Nephi.  But it's been good because one of the recent converts there previously never read and always said that she didn't have time.  Since we've started this, she has always read and actively participates and shares in the discussion.  I think it's been good because sometimes it's just hard for recent converts and less actives to understand the Book of Mormon and so they eventually just stop.  But so far, this is being successful!!

Well, that's about all the news from Pilar, Bataan, Philippines.  We had a really big rainstorm the other day and that was the loudest thunder I've heard in my life.  And tons of lightning.  I'm going to miss the rainstorms when I go home.  We don't have rain like that in Utah.

Love you all! Hope you are doing well and always sharing your testimony with your friends!
mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sept 1, 2014 Delio was baptized!

Delio got baptized!!!!!!!  Yay!!!

Hipon!  (Shrimp in Tagalog)
One of the members brought us fresh shrimp that he had just caught straight from the ocean.  This is literally first thing in the morning (which is why I look so lovely) that he brought them over and they are the BIGGEST shrimp I have ever seen in my life.  This one was the very biggest and is as long as my hand.  Or longer.  It was delicious. 

Hello Family!!!!!

Oh man I was soooooooooo excited to hear that Johnny got called to the New York, New York South mission.  That is super exciting.  A mission is really going to challenge him but it will be an amazing experience.  I know that missions are so important and you grow so much in them.  I wish that everyone could serve a mission!

This week was great because Delio Cayanan was baptized!!!!!!  He is one of the few investigators that I found and taught and baptized.  Usually I get transferred before the baptism, but I actually got to see this one.  He was so excited the day of the baptism and I wish you all could have seen the look on his face when he was walking up to the baptismal font.  He was so happy. And his wife literally clapped when he walked out of the font.  Hopefully we can get her baptized this month too!  The next day, we were really worried because it was 9:00 and he still hadn't showed up to church.  I thought, "Oh no, we forgot to tell him how important it was to come to the church the next day and get confirmed!" but he walked in after a few minutes and all of us (including the branch presidency) breathed a sigh of relief.  So he is officially baptized and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!!!!!

We also found a really awesome family this week that we are super excited about.  It is the Trajano family and they were taught about 10 years ago by the elders but then they moved.  So now they are back and we found them again!  We challenged them to be baptized in September, and Mark (the husband) said, "I should have been baptized a long time ago but for some reason it never happened."  So they accepted the baptismal date for September 20.  The wife and the three kids came to church on Sunday, but the husband was called in to work suddenly so he didn't come.  So next Sunday he should be able to come to church.  Marlyn (the wife) said to us the first time we went there, "We just met but I feel like we've known each other for a long time."  Already I really love their family and I really want to see them get baptized and then go to the temple.  Hopefully, actually faithfully, it will happen this month!

The work is going good here in Pilar and continues to progress.  My companion Sister Domingo is really good and we have a pretty good companionship.  She is SUPER madaldal (talkative) which used to annoy me at first but now it's all good because she gets people to trust her really fast.  And she is really good at teaching and asking questions.  I am learning so much from her already!  It's kind of funny though because we hear all the time "There's a little one and a big one!" as we're walking down the street.  Yep, she's really little!  But she has a fireball personality.

I hope that you are all having a great end of the summer.  It's kind of funny becuase it's 'winter' here.  so I'm having a hard time imagining that it is summer over there.  Hope everyone has a great first week of school. Keep reading your scriptures and praying EVERY DAY!  Alam ko na mahal kayo ng Diyos at sa pamamagitan ang pagsunod natin sa kanyang mga kautusan, pagpapalain at uunlad tayo!  Marami po ang mga biyaya na inihanda Niya para sa atin kung lalapit tayo sa kanya.

mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine